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A decade of change in Australia’s DBA landscape

Michelle Wallace (Business School, Southern Cross University, Bilinga, Australia)
Cathy Byrne (Business School, Southern Cross University, Bilinga, Australia)
Andrea Vocino (School of Business, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Terry Sloan (University of Western Sydney)
Simon J. Pervan (Business School, Southern Cross University, Bilinga, Australia)
Deborah Blackman (Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the dynamics of the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) in Australia through the lens of a changing higher education landscape. The paper reflects on issues raised in a previous analysis of DBA programmes undertaken a decade ago, and highlights persistent challenges and emerging opportunities for professional Doctorate programmes in the Australian context.


Interviews were undertaken with higher degree research directors, deans of graduate schools, and DBA programme directors from all 18 Australian institutions offering the DBA in 2013. Quantitative data on enrolments, accreditation requirements, course structures; and demographics are contextualised within a qualitative view of programme purposes, student and institutional motivations, rationales and concerns. Particular focus is given to perceptions of the difference between traditional research doctorates (PhDs) and professional doctorates, especially the DBA.


In the decade from 2003 to 2013 DBA enrolments are down but enquiries are up, indicating unmet demand. There is a shift in the players, with some smaller, regional universities dramatically increasing their enrolments, and larger, traditional institutions exiting the space altogether. Significant changes in accreditation criteria have generated a perceptual shift: where DBAs previously suffered from “academic snobbery” regarding their legitimacy, this perception is being challenged by standards which require DBA equivalence with a PhD. This shift in standards has also created some confusion amongst supervisors and candidates.


There is limited research into the DBA award or its candidates, and academic literature is generally silent on DBA supervision. This piece of research, one of very few that specifically examine the DBA, reflects on the past decade, analyses the present context and identifies emerging issues for the delivery of DBA programmes in Australia.



This research was funded by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ Office of Learning and Teaching.


Wallace, M., Byrne, C., Vocino, A., Sloan, T., Pervan, S.J. and Blackman, D. (2015), "A decade of change in Australia’s DBA landscape", Education + Training, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 31-47.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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